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AI: An emerging long term investible theme - reflections from QIA's Head of TMT, Mohammed Al-Hardan


Although the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ has existed for the last 68 years - having been coined by John McCarthy in 1955 - it is the year 2023 that history books will identify as the tipping-point. From here on, AI will continue to dominate headlines. Its ethical considerations will spur heated debates, inevitably shape regulation, and its proliferation within industries will achieve new levels of productivity. 

Mohammed Al-Hardan had the ​privilege to join a panel of distinguished thought leaders Joshua Burch, Jonathan Kewley, Siobhan MacDermott & Chema Alonso at the IFSWF (International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds) 15th Annual Meeting in Madrid in September. Here are some of the key takeaways for investors:​

AI isn’t a consideration only for tech-focused teams. No sector will remain untouched.

Although my focus at Qatar Investment Authority is technology, media, and telecoms, there are other sectors that will be equally, if not more, affected. From healthcare to real-estate, AI’s disruption is sector agnostic and investors need to constantly remember that.

Analysing AI-related risk is paramount to the due diligence process.

As long-term investors, we need to be laser focused on understanding the AI risk-adjusted opportunity. Fundamental questions need to be constantly asked: Can AI replicate this product/service? Where and how? What ‘data’ is required to enable machine learning and how can it be used to form a competitive ad/disadvantage? The answers to these questions will help us in our investment decisions.

As investors, the excitement is in the endless possibilities.

The emergence of ChatGPT and the euphoria it created helped spark a fundamental question: how can I benefit from this technology and how will it affect my life? Agents of change within society such as CEOs, academics, entrepreneurs and small business owners are all attempting to answer this question. In doing so, new use cases will be unlocked, new enterprises will form, and new categories will be defined. This will produce a new ‘supply’ of investible opportunities.

 There will be winners and losers of the AI arms race.​

As with all new waves of technological innovation, there will always be losers. Corporations that have lost their agility to manoeuvre, or ones that are emotionally vested in ‘their way of doing things’ will lose sight of the possibilities and will be outcompeted. By that time, it may be too late for them to change and adapt. We have seen these patterns before, and my prediction is that history will repeat itself.​​